Family Law Case Study Australia
The following are examples of cases which demonstrate the types of problems we can solve, the approaches we can take, and the services we can provide.
Jones Mitchell Lawyers are family law experts providing clients with solutions to a range of family law issues – from the simple to the most complex cases – using a range of different approaches – from alternative dispute resolution approaches such as mediation and arbitration to litigation where necessary.
Please note: Although these case studies are based on potentially real situations, it is hypothetical and is for illustrative purposes only. Every family law situation is unique. Consequently, our family law advice is tailored to each situation and individual outcomes will vary.
Case study – Brad, 39, wants another opinion
Brad separated from his partner of eight years, Tristan. When they separated six months ago, he met with a lawyer about dividing their assets. Since then, they have been trying work through the separation themselves. Although they both want to be fair to each other, they have accumulated a reasonable pool of assets and dividing it has become too complex.
In an attempt to resolve their differences, Tristan had been to see a lawyer. Brad again met with his lawyer, but realised that his lawyer does not specialise in family law. They have recommended a far more aggressive approach which Brad is not comfortable with. He realised he needed a second opinion.
He was recommended to Jones Mitchell through a work colleague. Immediately, their collaborative law approach put Brad at ease. After listening to Brad, his situation, and what was at stake, Jones Mitchell was able to discuss some alternative dispute resolution approaches that suited Brad and was far more appealing to Tristan and his lawyer. Jones Mitchell was able to easily obtain information from Brad’s previous lawyer. Both Brad and Tristan were able to settle quickly and amicably.
If you have seen another lawyer and would like another legal option or have been trying to sort out your differences yourself, visit our FAQs or contact us to speak with one of our experienced Jones Mitchell family lawyers.
Case study – Robert, 63, is looking to sell his business
Robert and his wife separated eight years ago after 25 years of marriage. Still amicable, they had drifted apart as the children grew, and have not formally separated their assets. They have an informal arrangement where his wife lives off certain investment income, while he runs and manages a large and still growing business.
Recently, Robert has been made aware of the potential value of his business . Thinking about his retirement, Robert is now working to build and plan to sell in the near future. Unaware of the impact of the business sale on his personal situation, Robert has been referred by his commercial lawyer to Jones Mitchell to ‘formally sort out his separation’. Robert has been advised that his marital status and his unfinished separation of assets may significantly impact on his retirement planning and the proceeds of the sale of his business.
When Jones Mitchell met Robert, they were aware that Robert’s wife might want to know why he is now wanting to formally separate their assets. Although she has been amicable to date, she may wonder what his motivations are and look to obtain far more assets that Robert is willing to give up. Working with Robert to obtain the background information to fully understand the circumstances and current arrangements, as well as working through scenarios if Robert sold his business, Jones Mitchell conducted a risk analysis to weigh up the pros and cons of formally separating now.
Ultimately, like many cases, Jones Mitchell worked with Robert to find a mutually beneficial solution that suited his future plans.
If you are acquiring assets and would like more information, visit our FAQs or contact us to speak with one of our experienced Jones Mitchell family lawyers.
Case study – Lisa, 35, wants to move interstate
Lisa is the primary carer of her two children – aged five and 11 – from her first marriage. Recently re-married and now pregnant, her new husband owns and runs a fruit growing farm in Armidale, NSW, and she plans to permanently relocate her children from Brisbane to live with her there. He ex-husband currently sees his children for three nights every second weekend and has said he will fight her to stop them going. Living in Brisbane as an IT specialist, he cannot relocate. And he knew this would mean a big change in the amount and quality of time he spends with his children.
Jones Mitchell worked with Lisa to resolve her previous property settlement. Knowing this would be a very difficult case which could go either way if presented in court, Jones Mitchell knew a case like this required thinking ‘outside the box’ to prepare a solution that will best work for everyone – Lisa, her new husband, the new baby, the children, and their father.
Fully understanding that there are no winners in a case like this, Jones Mitchell focussed on crafting a solution that is in the children’s best interests. On one hand, Lisa’s happiness directly impacts the happiness of her children, so going as a family to Armidale, where they will have stability with a new baby on the way, access to good schools, and a lovely home environment would be positive for the children. However, they will miss out on the constant contact with and influence of their father, who very much wants to be a part of their lives.
Through clever crafting, Jones Mitchell prepared for mediation and demonstrated that there was no perfect solution. They provided evidence to support the various scenarios and were able to get both parties to recognise that each other were giving up something. As it seemed the children’s father was giving up more, the mother offered to pay for the children’s flights to visit their father and for the father to have more time with the children over school holidays. She also offered to pay for the children to fly to see their father on a weekend mid-school term. Reluctantly, the father agreed in mediation asking for the children to be flown up twice a term. They also agreed to have regular Skype and phone communication.
If you have children and are thinking about moving interstate or overseas and would like more information, visit our FAQs or contact us to speak with one of our experienced Jones Mitchell family lawyers.
Case study – Rhys, 32, wants to see his son more
Rhys is a dentist and has been separated for six months. He has a two year old son, Harry, who has recently stopped breastfeeding. Since separating, he only sees his son during the day on the weekend. His ex-partner has not allowed him to keep Harry overnight, saying that he is ‘too young’. He really wants to have a strong relationship with Harry, but is feeling that day contact is not enough.
Rhys is not sure of his rights. He’s heard lots of different stories – some dads have their kids for 50 per cent of the time, while others hardly get to see them at all. He has a comfortable unit and can be flexible with his work. He thinks it would be perfectly fine for Harry to spend some nights with him.
Referred by a friend who was a past client of Jones Mitchell, Rhys met with a Jones Mitchell family lawyer. They first discussed the history of the situation, the current care arrangements, and his work commitments. They discussed the possibility of obtaining a family report by social workers or psychologists to provide an independent assessment of what was best for Harry. After gathering the necessary information, Jones Mitchell gave Rhys advice about the legal framework and what a court would most likely decide. They discussed several approaches to resolving the problem and recommended that private mediation may work best for him and his ex-partner.
With a professional, well-thought out, and well-executed plan, Jones Mitchell was able to obtain buy-in from Rhys’s ex-partner about care arrangements for Harry. Slowly they were able to work towards a progressive increase in care that both were comfortable with and that was in Harry’s best interests. After these care arrangements were sorted, Jones Mitchell encouraged Rhys to finalise his financial separation from his ex-partner and ensure Harry was well-supported.
If you can’t agree on parenting arrangements and would like more information, visit our FAQs or contact us to speak with one of our experienced Jones Mitchell family lawyers.
Case study – Catherine, 38, is moving in with her new partner
Catherine is a property lawyer. She is divorced with two young children, aged seven and eight. In the last year, she’s met a new partner Michael and has made the exciting decision to move in with him. With memories of an emotionally draining and long and costly separation from her first husband, Catherine wants to avoid this situation occurring again should something go wrong. Michael too has a similar background, but does not have any children.
Both Catherine and Michael very much want to learn from their previous experiences and want their relationship to work. But they both have significant assets which they want to protect. They are also nervous about the very clinical nature of getting a financial agreement or a ‘pre nuptial agreement’ drawn up and don’t want discussions of splitting assets this early to damage their relationship.
Catherine went to see a family lawyer at Jones Mitchell as her firm regularly refers to them. She already understood that Jones Mitchell can only work with one party – in this case Catherine – but hoped they would be able to draw up an agreement that both she and Michael agreed.
After explaining their financial situation and answering many questions about her and Michael’s plans should they separate, Catherine felt reassured that Jones Mitchell was approaching their agreement with great sensitivity and understanding. They were able to explore with Catherine many different scenarios and how they might impact on their financial agreement. What if they buy a house together? What happens if she sells her house, which she currently owns outright? What about the inheritance she is likely to get when her father passes away?
After several discussions gathering relevant information to fine tune the individual agreement, Jones Mitchell was able to draw up a draft financial agreement for Catherine and Michael to consider. Once they were both happy, Michael took this agreement to an independent lawyer to ensure he fully understood what the agreement meant for him.
With marriage on the cards, both Catherine and Michael were pleased at how secure this whole process had made them feel. They felt that Jones Mitchell’s professional approach and understanding of the sensitivities contributed greatly to their more secure future.
If you are beginning a new relationship and would like more information, visit our FAQs or contact us to speak with one of our experienced Jones Mitchell family lawyers.
Recent Family Court judgments are published on the Court's website under judgments.
A more comprehensive and searchable database of Family Court judgments is available on AustLII (Australasian Legal Information Institute).
To look for a particular judgment or search for judgments on a certain topic you can use the databases containing selected cases from 1988 onwards available on the AustlII website, see links below:
Note: Section 121 of the Family Law Act 1975 makes it an offence, except in very limited circumstances, to publish or distribute a report of a case or part of a case, including information contained in a Judgment, which identifies parties, related or associated persons, witnesses or others involved in the case. A breach of the section is a criminal offence. The section also sets out certain limited defences to criminal liability. An example is where the Court has expressly authorised the publication.